One day I had an unfortunate aviation accident and I spent some time in hospital. I had a lot of time on my hands and not much to do. Playing ants was one of the ways that I helped pass the time.
It was during this time that I started to notice some strange things happening with some of the games I played. A player who magically won with more points than I though possible.
I questioned the player who told me about how he achieved this simple cheat using cheat-o-matic. A lot of people were still using Windows95 or Windows98. Not exactly protected mode operating systems. I wasn't interested in the cheat, but more about how the cheat was peformed through manipulating the computer's memory on the fly.
Cheat-o-matic was merely a tool which made the task so much easier, and only took minutes before I started to look at every aspect of the data associated with the game. I spent many hours absorbed changing invididual bits and looking for changes.
I think about how genetic sequencing was achieved and methods like shotgunning DNA code. I did very similar things to the genome of ants.
The breakthrough came a few days later when I noticed another cheat where a player had swapped a map. I found the incident very amusing at the time yet the other players (kiddies) were very vocal about their dislike of cheats.
It was just fuel to the fire !
I focused my attention on the maps and put the executable code on hold. Again, many hours of cutting and splicing code, sequences paid off. The first creation was a simple cheat map.
I don't even remember which on these days. I had removed the barriers from the map and was able to walk through the map at will while other players were limited by walls and barriers.
It looked very similar to a map swap cheat except that my map had the checksum correct and was almost identical to the orignal map, so I did not have barriers of another map and I was able to see and play the correct map on my screen.
This cheat just evolved into more complex cheats. Many of which are listed on some of the pages on this site, but there were so many more which I was working on that I did not publish.
Of course once you become an omnipotent god, ordinary mortal beings no longer amuse you. There's only so many ants you can burn with a magnifying glass before you grow up.
And so I did. My attention turned to making new maps.
I was rather disgusted with the thought that Microsoft had purchased rights to the game for the zone and dispite the demands by players for more maps and improvements to the game, they did nothing.
It was only a matter of time before somebody took it to task themselves.
A lot of time was spent making a new map (Mirage) despite what now appears to be a very simple map. I orignally gave this map to three other players and told them not to share it. (Knowing they would do exactly the opposite !)
If there is one thing I knew about the behaviour of other zone players was, they could not be trusted with anything!
I logged off and was not back on the zone for 12 hours. When I tried to log back in, I could not log into ants. My first thought was that maybe I was banned. I checked my cookies but couldn't find any evidence. I spoofed my IP and still couldn't log on even with second ID.
I continued to try and when I did finally log in the zone was saturated with hundreds of players all playing the new map.
I checked the sysops chat to see what sort of chatter was going on there. They were overloaded with people asking about the new map. The sysops knew nothing of the map and denied it's existence and most of them were incompetent at policing or helping with the zone. The incident only highlighted this but nobody took any notice and the sysops were back to stroking their egos a few days later.
The reason that I could not log in was because ants was saturated, the game had never been so popular. Another lesson not learned by MSN.
With the popularity of Mirage I set to work making something spectacular; Jungle. This map was massive by comparison to other maps and the time allocated long enough to keep everybody busy.
The logic behind the Jungle map was to encourage the worst behaviour in players. I'd seen lots of pratish behaviour and little girlie fights on the zone amoungst the kiddies, so this map was created with them specifically in mind.
New features not seen in other maps were added, food was hidden and lots of thought was required by players to overcome obsticals. The main theme of the map was trust. Players had to trust each other. Power to control the map was given only to one player and that player could only control one part of the map. At any time a trusted player could turn on his allies and this bad behaviour, greed and stupidity were encouraged in the design of the map.
But it was not all bad. Should a player betray the trust of any other player, he could easily be overwhelmed by other players. Democracy is the key to the map. While it always encoraged players to be bad, if a player resisted the temptation to take advantage of the others, he could keep his head down and win by being the nice guy that nobody noticed.
When this map was released it was even more popular than Mirage which players quickly grew tired of playing like all the other maps.
I watched many games of jungle and the fights and tactics gave me many many hours of enjoyment. Leyland Gaunt from Stephen King's "Needful Things" had nothing on the hours of torment I unleashed on the zone.